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Thoughts while driving
September 27, 2011 - Chuck Hunt
A driving trip to the East Coast and back earlier in September brought several revelations to this editor. The first and foremost is that there is one heckuva lot of road construction going on in this country. In fact, I would call it an unbelievable amount. We drove over 3,000 miles and it is hard to go more than 50 miles without hitting some type of construction. Granted, some projects are larger – and longer – than others. There are bridges, patching and short repairs that are too numerous to list. Then there are the longer stretches where you drive in the other lane for many miles. If I told you we hit a hundred road construction projects I would not be exaggerating. In fact, I would guess there were more than that. The second thing to report is that most traffic goes about five miles an hour faster than the posted speed limit. Except that in the metro areas, there are always those speeders who go past you like you are standing still. And, they will pass you on the right or left and weave through traffic while going 80-90 miles an hour. The third item is the price of gas. We feared it would be exorbitantly high on the East Coast. Actually, it seems to vary by too things – which state you are in, and whether you are on a toll way or not. Some states just have higher state tax than others, but even so the price of gas was always between $3.50 and just under $4. Now the price of gas is dropping here in Minnesota and hitting below $3.50 in some areas. The last thing about traveling east is the toll ways themselves. To go from Minnesota to Massachusetts to Washington, D.C., costs a driver close to $50 in tolls. You’d better carry some cash with you or else get one of the EZ-Passes that are available. With those, drivers pre-load up the EZ-Pass with money and attach it to their windshield. Then each time they pass through a toll booth, it is read on the fly and the amount is automatically deducted. Pretty slick. Every state out east seems to have a toll way as their main highway through the state. I wonder why Minnesota has not set up a toll way on I-90, I-94 and I-35. We even paid tolls to go through one long tunnel and one long bridge. Maybe it isn’t worth the hassle of setting up booths every time cars are allowed to leave the tollway. Every exit has to have a booth to take the driver’s money. And to give a driver a ticket when he/she gets on the tollway. At Elkhart, Ind., at 5:30 a.m., the ticket did not dispense from the automatic ticket dispenser. So, we had to push the ‘call’ button and talk to an operator. She said to just proceed when the gate went up, and tell the person at the booth where we would get off the tollway that ‘Kathy” said we got on at Elkhart. I guess sometimes the automatic machinery doesn’t always work.
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